I walked up the stairs, turned to the left, and headed down the long alley to the main event. I ignored the racks of bright orange robes and stepped out into the glare of artificial lights and exhaled deeply, watching my breath come alive in the frigid air like a cone of cigar smoke.
It was a cold one last night on the roof of 230 Fifth, a nightspot that combines indoor space with an unrivalled rooftop lounge on the East side of Manhattan on Fifth Avenue. It was the fifth annual Jaws Cigar Party, held before the biggest game in football by ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski. He’s a cigar lover, and he throws this party each and every year before the Super Bowl to raise money for his charity and enjoy a cigar or two with friends and fans alike.
The rooftop was more crowded than I expected, given the temperatures in the 20s, and everyone was smoking cigars. Most had opted for the robes, and all were huddled around the heaters spaced throughout the rooftop. I found a suitable, somewhat warm spot and fired up a Rocky Patel Royale.
Rocky was one of several cigar sponsors for the evening. General Cigar was also there, as were Quesada Cigars, Ventura Cigar Co. and Miami Cigar & Co. Xikar provided gifts, and all the cigar companies involved, plus Camacho, donated cigar lots to a silent auction dominated by a wide array of football memorabilia. (I put in a bid for a pigskin signed by former New York Giant running back Ottis Anderson, he of the legendary stiff arm, but I don’t think I won.)
The event was a lively one, with plenty of Johnnie Walker Scotch, Zacapa Rum, Ketel One vodka, Don Julio tequila and a new beer called Miller Fortune. I saw such football notables as Bill Cowher and Mike Golic milling about downstairs, and a huge crowd gathered around New Jersey rocker Jon Bon Jovi. Jaworski, who had a storied career as the quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles, was the center of attention, shaking hands, stopping for photos, and being a gracious and enthusiastic host.
Super Bowl week is always lively, but having it in the New York metro area (OK, New Jersey) has the entire region especially excited. When I watch the Super Bowl, I typically do so in my smoking room, usually with a few close friends, so I can puff on a great smoke while I enjoy the game.
What cigar to choose? When it comes to the big game, I like to go with a big cigar, something I don’t normally smoke on other occasions. The Super Bowl lasts for hours, so this is a fitting occasion to grab something that has staying power, like an “A.”
The Cuban standard for “A” cigars is 9 1/4 inches long by 49 ring gauge, making them the longest regular-production size in the cigar world. (Regular production is a bit of a stretch, as even when an “A” is a part of a cigar portfolio, a cigamaker makes very few of them indeed. But oddities and custom smokes aside, the “A” is the king of length in the cigar world.) They take a very long time to smoke—you might get two hours from one if you puff slowly—and they can be absolutely extraordinary.
While “As” aren’t the most popular of cigars, a few notable cigar companies have released new ones lately. Litto Gomez came out with the La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero “A” Oscuro Natural this summer, a $15 cigar made with high-priming Ecuador Sumatra wrapper. And only two months ago, Illusione came out with the Illusione Epernay Le Voyage, a Nicaraguan puro retailing for $25.
We rated “As” (and other long cigars, none shorter than 8 1/2 inches long) in the February issue of Cigar Aficionado. Five of them scored in the 90s, and none scored lower than 87 points. These are serious smokes worthy of a long time smoking—just like you might find on Sunday afternoon when the Broncos take on the Seahawks. So grab yourself an “A” this Sunday, turn on the big game and enjoy your smoke.